Kofi Annan one of the most cerebral UN Secretary Generals ever to have graced the UN House in New York once said that when elections are conducted in integrity, without being disfigured by election motivated violence are the ingredients of true democracy.
With the fore going there is no gainsaying that, flawed elections create unrest, as contenders stubbornly refuse to accept or display the sportsmanship that comes with all contests. It is this singular bane of not accepting defeat of the electoral races that has set back development by several decades -especially for nations of Africa. Ghana and Ghanians are set for a fifth round of elections and if the death of former President Attah Mills is a deciding factor on the Ghanaian democracy and institution, then it will be safe to say that Ghana has well earned its title as the “beacon of democracy in Africa’’
So far, the process has been a neck to neck race between the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the 2nd time contender Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo, of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
As an avid observer of elections within the continent, these are my thoughts. During the 2008 Ghanaian elections, the tie between the late Atta Mills and Nana Akufo was incredibly close, so close that it took some 50, 000 votes to make the late Mills, president, edging his then opponent Mr. Nana by a mere 5 percent.
However this time around, the tides have changed for obvious reasons, it is the social media elections as well as the oil boom elections, even the campaign strategies have taken a 360 turn. For its economy, Ghana currently generates an average of 85,000 barrels per day, this is a drastic change from 2008 when the nation relied on cocoa export receipts for major income earnings.
The campaigns have seen, Ghanaians being wooed by the major candidates with various promises ranging from Mr. Nana’s free high school policy to Mahama’s promise to make the polytechnic a degree awarding institution.
As the 13 million Ghanaian biometric registered voters prepare to go to the polls to elect a new helmsman, violence is gradually rearing its viciousness on the scene; at the Ashtown of Kumasi, there have been violent attacks and reprisals leading to shootings, matcheting and the looting of shops just in the build up to election day . From the poor North to the rich South, uncertainty greets the process.
Before the 2007 Kenyan elections, several election analysts held that the process had undergone a thorough democratic test, and would withstand any electoral turbulence; an assertion which proved wrong as Kenyans witnessed what is today described as one of the continent’s worse political, economic, and humanitarian electoral unrest crises which erupted after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the Presidential election.
No one expected the election process to turn out the way it did. No incident was reported on election day as Kenyans were determined to see a successful process. Shortly after the provisional results started pouring into the mainstream media houses and reported live; the results came out otherwise from the way voters alleged they voted, this became a shocker and the aftermath is now our story.
For the forthcoming Elections in Ghana, the European Union is reported to have declined an invitation to observe. In their calculation, Ghana has proved its democratic maturity beyond doubt, and can manage its own electoral affairs without external supervision. One hopes that this level of maturity grows on other emerging democracies in Africa, to wash away the belligerence associated with elections. However the rhetorical question remains -will the 2012 Ghanian elections alter growing political permutations?